I've been waiting for this day since November 12th. He's already come out feistier in one speech, than Mike Duncan did in 2 years.
"We're going to say to friend and foe alike, we want you to be a part of us, we want you to with be with us, and for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over," said Mr Steele in his acceptance speech.
I'm just sorry that convenient bigot, Steve Gilliard, who the New York Times honoured with a glowing obit even after his disgusting "Minstrel Michael" caricature, couldn't live to see this day.
Living well isn't the best revenge. It's outlasting everyone who dismissed your beliefs.
So you want to know who will win the Super Bowl this Sunday? The surprising Arizona Cardinals or the defensive juggernauts Pittsburgh Steelers? You and every bookie around, buddy.
Given that Trooper York'sNew York Giants won last year, which was a kind of miracle given the invincibility of the 17-0 Patriots (I'll have you know that I was backing the Giants all the way -- love dem Mannings!), one would have to be pretty daring to go with the underdogs again this year.
So call me crazy, not that you don't already, but I'll take the Cardinals with whatever you call when they win by 2 points. Two point spread, or something, right? Hey, I'm good at predictions, but lousy in bet-talk.
For those who are undecided, you could do worse than follow the results of the infallible test concocted by wingnut talkshow host, "MJ" Schnitt.
What is the test? Since the video cannot be embedded, I have to use a more old-fashioned method to show you.
Check it out below.
You start with a carton of Eggland's Best.
Clearly label the chicken by-products.
Get yourself one of those Daewoo "hatchibatchies", as Cubans call them.
Stick in the worthy opponents, timer to 5 minutes.Whichever explodes first, loses.
And the winner is...the Pittsburgh Steelers!
WOO! AFC BABY!
Remember last year?
In all the years Schnitt has been doing this egg Super Bowl test, it's never been wrong. Ever.
...oh, screw my womanly intuition. I'm putting 250 large on the Steelers.
(One feels I should end this statement with "Suckas", or something potent like that. So yeah, Suckas!)
From the fine folks who brought you the "redneck timeout"...
...comes the "redneck windshield wipers".
Once I had a boyfriend who was from Louisville, Kentucky. He was as smart as a whip, made me laugh, and had an old-fashioned Southern sensibility that melted my heart.
But he had a horrible secret: he was ashamed of his background. No amount of tut-tutting made him feel like he could share certain parts of his life with me.
After much pulling of the arm, however, I convinced me to let me visit the family homestead. Family to me is everything, and I cannot judge or perhaps even love a man fully until I meet his kin.
I arrived in Louisville just a fortnight before the Kentucky Derby (one of my lifelong dreams is to attend the races at Churchill Downs one day), and prepared to meet his 5 older brothers and sister, and most importantly, his parents.
His father was one of those Army drill sergeants who are deadly on parade, but big fluffy marshmallows outside of it. His mother was a sweetheart, who absolutely adored me. I'll never forget how, though my boyfriend was in his 20s, everyone called his mother, "mommy". Meanwhile, his father was "daddy", but said in that unforgettable twang, it was rendered as "deddy".
I was treated like a cross between Priscilla Presley, Mrs. Adolph Rupp and the Queen.
I was very very humbled by their warmth.
Now you may wonder why I am recounting all of this. It's because I was not allowed to go anywhere near their modest home located some miles outside of the "big city". Yep, you guessed it, it was a trailer home.
Try as I might, my silent, upstanding chap would not allow me to go anywhere near his home.
Inside his dad's old car, I was though. It was anything but new, and looked like it was held up by a fair amount of skill on his dad's part, which included homemade repairs.
It was when reading an Instapundit link to the 1969 Dodge Polara (apparently, a great favourite of American coppers) that I was immediately jolted back to this moment in time, when I got to ride inside a vehicle very similar to this car. I never did ask what it was, because honestly, until recently I hadn't a clue about anything car-related. I want to say it was a Dodge Challenger, like my own father had when he first set foot in this country, but I cannot be sure. It was manual, though, and I was impressed by that in the land of the automatic.
But when I read this:
With 375-horsepower, 440-cubic-inch muscle car big block engines and taut heavy-duty suspensions, Polaras inspired awe, fear, and respect.
I did remember the cocooned feeling of raw power, combined with a rather transparent sincerity which seems to be so effortless in this country. It inspires respect.
Not just in your cars, but in your people.
If fossil fuels are a limited commodity, and one day the muscle cars we enjoyed, not just in the 1960s, but now during our very own Golden Age of Escalades and Chrysler 300s, the memories we will have of those cars will be like the Gold Rush oldtimers remembering the smallest nuggets of gold.
No matter how humble a double-wide home, or a rustbucket old car, just remember, they're beyond precious when they only exist in our memories.
Rather like my boyfriend, really.
P.S.: We're not in touch, but as with my other boyfriends, we parted as friends.
Governor Sarah Palin has made it known she's attending, and in fact, speaking at this weekend's Alfalfa Club dinner expressly to meet new President, Barack Obama.
"The Alfalfa dinner, yes, in fact that's because President Obama is scheduled to be there," Palin said. "And how often will I have an opportunity to have dinner with the president? I will take up that offer to do so."
According to Politico, both Obama and Palin will address the crowd.
This photo-op will have the Washington crowd in a lather, given Governor Palin's repeated body blows of the then Democratic candidate during her RNC speech. I counted 15 references to him in that Scully ghosted speech, delivered in a brutal tone of derision about Obama's 'journey of self-discovery' as presidential candidate.
The over-200 members of this extremely select, powerful club include General Colin Powell, and since he had a few choice words to say about her, that might be an interesting meeting too, if he does attend.
What is certain is that the Georgetown cocktail set which Senator John McCain half-heartedly chastised for their refusal to be wowed by the Alaskan's accomplishments, will be looking for any miscue so Sally Quinn can milk it in commentary op-eds for weeks to come.
I actually think Governor Palin may not make it on Saturday, largely because of Anchorage's equivalent of Vesuvius, Mt. Redoubt, might erupt in the next few days. Here it is, with a scary mushroom cloud shape, doing just that in 1991.
If she leaves now, she will be accused by salivating Mudflatters that she is heartless, power-grabbing, and not doing her job as Governor (it would be curious to know their take on the AWOL Senate career of Barack Obama, who started campaigning for President the moment he swore, sans mistake that time, his senatorial Oath).
This despite the fact that her reason for going to Washington is precisely to get the ear of the President, or at least, to initiate contact on her State's behalf. Can't win with some, Guv'nor.
If you want a friend in Washington, said President Truman, get a dog. But it strikes me that huskies will not be needed this time. As they suspect all too well, her bite is far worse than her bark.
Poor First Lady Michelle Obama. Now, I'm hardly a fan or anything, but it strikes me that this pre-wax sculpture by Madame Tussaud's top man, Colin Jackson, has a Goya-esque flavour to it.
It errs, perhaps, a little too close to truth than to flattery.
Mrs. Obama is a woman whose face in repose hovers between "grim" and "aggressive". As such, a photographer or plastic artist must be careful to show her when her face is more relaxed lest a portrait become a caricature.
In this clay rendition, which will serve as a basis for the figurine, her massive underbite and chiclet-sized front teeth are overly apparent, not to mention the lack of subtlety around the mannish jaw area. As depicted here, she looks like a truck driver, or PE instructor, yeesh. All she needs is a whistle...
Either way, it's not a good likeness. Hopefully, the Washington Museum (which has only showcased Democratic First Ladies, Jacqueline Kennedy and Hillary Clinton) might have time to rectify their artistic license.
She needs to look good next to her hubby, in March, after all. Mighty fine, mmm-mmm.
And so ends another corruptocrat's career, as the Illinois Senate sent Governor Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich packing. After the strange defense he put up for himself Thursday, saying he did what he did for the kids and senior citizens, it seems he is more than just a corrupt politician -- he's a sociopath who cannot differentiate between right and wrong, let alone the hard truth of reality.
As such, it's difficult not to pile on when the man is down. He doesn't deserve anyone's confidence, after bartering sick children's hospital programmes in exchange for favours. I mean even for a "Chicago politician" that is COLD.
Dan Riehlechoes what all of us were thinking about George HW Bush'sjoke below.
"I suspect only a very old man can get away with saying this about an obvious feminist."
President Bush (who thankfully looks much more hale and hearty than he did at the recent Inauguration, seen visibly leaning on his cane due to hip problems) told an amazed audience of his encounter with what all of us know is one of those zombified, vampirical, Golemish, pro-choice protestors.
As luck would have it, I think I have tracked down some photographs no doubt showing the very woman "41" must've seen!
But my eyes are not what they used to be, so I am enlisting the help of all Sundries readers. Tell me who you think is the lady President Bush clearly saw during that fateful encounter.
Ruth Anne Adams and JSU both simultaneously mentioned the newest development in Governor Sarah Palin's political evolution.
She now has her own Virginia-registered fund called "SarahPAC"!
One of the few, very very few, good things about John McCain's campaign was that his website allowed PayPal donations. That's one of the perks of having Meg Whitman as your pal. So I've popped off an email to the PAC officers to try to get this option since I think that would be a monumental boon to raising moneys.
ADDENDUM: As a student of history, I am very observant of messages sent by subtle cues in imagery. When the stakes are at the very highest, most details are not left to chance.
In that spirit, I have observed that Sarah Palin uses her hair down during speeches, which makes her still youthful features appear a little more severe. Almost counterintuitively though, the style flatters her more than the iconic "bun", which has increasingly been shunted aside since her roll-out in Dayton, Ohio. The "hair down" also offers an alternative to the constant short haircuts seen on other female politicians.
This is also why she uses her square librarian glasses (which at one point had been rumoured by HuffPo to be fake. No, she's worn glasses since her earliest childhood. In fact, so do Piper and Trig today, clearly inheriting those genes from their mother). Anything to detract from the fact that she is above-average looking woman in a field where homely women are legion.
Curiously, in the site photo, she is wearing the same shiny black jacket she used the day I saw her in person at the Hotel Intercontinental. That is not a flattering fabric, to say the least, but you can see she is sending another message that this is who she is, what she can afford, and has nothing to do with the supposed clotheshorse the RNC tried to transform her into.
Her posture is relaxed, her hands linked in that almost prayerful gesture she has during rallies, and her prominent jaw is jutting with determination at some far off goal in the distance.
Believe it or not, the first sit-down interview granted by the new President of the United States, Barack Obama, was to Al-Arabiya (Al-Jezeera's main rival).
You know, these past few days were not good days for Republicans watching the new President take his baby steps.
Not only did he reinstitute Federal funding to international groups that provide abortions or give advice on the issue, but he had a verbal skirmish targetting Rush Limbaugh, of all people, as well as taunting Republican legislators that "I won". There was that almost 1 Trillion dollar stimulus package which even John "RINO" McCain can't get behind, whilst Monday brought news that Timothy Geithner was confirmed as our Treasury Secretary even after "forgetting" to pay taxes, joining in spirit Barack Obama -- whose aunt is in the country illegally.
And finally, as cherry on top, his first concession to media is not even in the US, but to a foreign news entity which broadcasts in the Arab language.
(Did I miss anything?)
I was hopeful he would be a middle-of-the-road President given his moderate pre-Inauguration steps, but honestly, he won't be. As such, I won't be behind his left-of-centre efforts to retool America and its vision of itself in the world.
So far, I see more connective tissue to Carter than to Reagan.
Prediction: Oprah Winfrey will run for a Senate seat from Illinois one day.
Possibly for Dick Durbin's seat, or even Barack Obama's seat, should either make a serious bid for the US Presidency in 2008, or more to the point, 2012, one year after Oprah's contract is set to expire.
I didn't get it right, at least, not yet.
But today comes word that "embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich" (it's almost a journalistic mantra) was considering appointing Miss Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama's vacant seat!
At least, that's apparently what he told those cream-of-wheat harpies of The View. Gawker thought it would've been "amazing", and quoted Helmet Head's reason.
She seemed to be someone who had helped Barack Obama in a significant way become president," he said. "She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators."
Oprah has already issued a response, via her BFF Gayle King's Sirius show.
"If I had been watching from the treadmill I probably would have fallen off the treadmill."
Work off those Krispy Kremes, girl!
Of course, now, when she legitimately casts her hat into the ring, she can claim that she had never thought about it, never ever before Governor Blagojevich first brought it up. But the more she thought about it, the more she realised she had a platform, support, and wanted to offer her services to her country.
It's with great sadness and some amount of embarrassment to inform you that I have roaches. Well, not in my house. But in my car! My new, lovely wonderful car.
Ugh, how does this happen?
You have to realise that cockroaches are not a British thing. Our climate is too cold for them to proliferate, so when I emigrated here, it was a complete culture shock. That's not even counting the godzilla roaches Floridians cheerily call, "Palmetto bugs". I'm convinced those have it out for me, because the moment they see me, they fly right at me. Grrr.
My car doesn't have that variety, but I did find two baby roaches, no bigger than the head of a pin inside my car today.
Fortunately, I was at a drive-thru' and not riding around, else the Miami Horrible's headline might've read, "Woman motorist causes accident on the 'wrong side of road'. Blames roach", which on top of everything, would make me sound like a crazy pot-smoking hippie-dippy chick.
Anyway, so I went to Publix and got myself one of those Roach Motels. Actually, they don't call them that anymore. They're "Guest Worker Houses" these days. On aisle 9.
The problem is there are so many to choose from: Scented, Unscented, Country Apple, Mimosa, Febreze Candle, Booty Call, and one very lovely smelling one called simply, Nutsack.
What did catch my eye was that the packaging was in both English and Spanish. Maybe I'm a little obtuse, because though I knew instructions on some packaging were in both languages, I hadn't realised that the blurbs in front were translated, too.
What are they trying to infer? That Campbell Soup eaters do not need billingual help, but that Hispanics are dirty, filthy beasts who have roaches in their houses? Humph.
I was just about to choose one when I read something which totally put me off the purchase. A Spanish grammatical mistake.
"Ataca el Nido Y Mata Las Huevos"
Not being a native Spanish speaker or anything, I appeal to José, Ernie and others to correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe it's LOS Huevos. And please stop snickering. I know, it also means "balls". In German too!
I finally left the supermarket with my real purchase in hand, only to arrive home and open it at last just now. It didn't catch my eye in the aisle, and though it's not a grammatical mistake, it just seems...off.
Check it out.
Since when does "pet" translate as a mascot in Spanish? That's some weird Mexican slang stuff right there.
Even if it does mean that in Cuban, Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, Argentinian etc. etc. Spanish, this brings to mind the pitfalls of translating the various Spanish usages, all in the name of political correctness. You're bound to startle or amuse one Spanish speaker, by using a word they wouldn't use in the name of all Spanish speakers.
I guess that's why they demurred from using the word "bichos" which for Cubans means animals (or indeed pets, I do believe), but it would cause a riot of protest from Puerto Ricans. You don't want to know. Hee.
Well, I'm off to go downstairs and scatter those bait traps around. I'll be damned if those cucas will get the better of me or my fresh ride.
Que rayos hacen en mi carro!
IN THE COMMENTS:José comes to the linguistic rescue by agreeing it's los not las huevos. What, they couldn't afford (1) a native Spanish translator (2) a proofreader??
And ElCubanitoKC asks incredulously:
You have bichos in your car, and you are trying to kill los huevos??
Seriously? Don't you think it's a little too...soon?
Cities and school boards are naming streets and buildings after President Obama, breaking with the tradition of waiting until a president is out of office.
• Ludlum Elementary School in Hempstead, N.Y., on Long Island, was renamed after Obama in November. A school in Portland, Ore., is deliberating a similar change.
• Opa-Locka, Fla., renamed one of its main city streets in December. Hollywood, Fla., is considering doing the same.
• St. Louis made an honorary name change to a busy road that used to divide white and black neighborhoods. The postal address is still Delmar Boulevard, but the city will post signs that also designate the street Barack Obama Boulevard.
And the tributes are not only flowing from enraptured Americans, either.
Obama is being honored abroad, too. The Associated Press reports that Antigua is renaming 1,300-foot Boggy Peak, its highest spot, Mount Obama.
The world has got a screw loose. Either that or they have forgotten that one has got to actually accomplish something before being thus honoured.
I mean, they could've waited until he was President for a whole week, at least.
P.S.: I am reminded of comedian Chris Rock's funny stand-up routine on being around Martin Luther King streets around America.
"'If a friend calls you on the telephone and says they're lost on Martin Luther King Boulevard and they want to know what they should do, the best response is ‘Run!’”
Will that be the case with Barack Obama Blvds. too?
IN THE COMMENTS: The comment of the day, courtesy of Ophir.
I hear they're also going to change the name of Washington DC to Obamagrad.
Somewhere, in some favela or brokedown bairro in a Brazilian city, they will officially change their name to "Obamopolis". You watch.
"...and they asked me, 'How many Predator UAV's does it take to destroy our base camp in Pakistan?', and, just like here, I told them 'one', and they didn't believe me! They just shook their heads and said, 'Go make the video, Achmed,' like I was lying or something..."
Congratulations funny people!
(Thanks, Blake! I never did pay attention during the Misses pageants)
My dear Sundries readers, it's not often that I read a series of testimonials and I do not know how to react.
As I recount the story of the people who were turned back from watching the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, using their own words, I am filled with such a sympathy for them, but also mixed with incredulity and sometimes even distaste.
It's probably akin to an Obama supporter hearing me say that when I saw Governor Palin's face on that dais as John McCain was giving his concession speech -- when I saw her eyes glisten but not break down, I scrunched up my face in pain, and lowered myself into the sofa crying, unable to watch further. It's not easy saying that, because you know it might not be received the right way. You just hope there is a shred of humanity amongst those who oppose your views, who will not be heartless about your emotion.
I am in that position today.
Have you heard about the purple ticket holders, who had special tickets to view the Inauguration? They had been given away by the likes of Nancy Pelosi, and all the other legislators whose staff members were also included in the mix.
They are calling the tunnel in which they waited an ungodly number of hours to enter the gates, the Purple Tunnel of Doom. They have even made a Facebook group with that name, "Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom", as if they were ex-war combatants, comforted by the presence of others with whom they can share their war stories.
(That won't be the only military allusion you will hear about this, so keep an eye out for that)
The less charitable amongst us, including many Republicans reading this who remember the treatment they received at the hands of pro-Obama supporters, might have trouble giving these people sympathy -- especially since these Purple Tunnel survivors are getting called racist even by their local media, for complaining about the shoddy organisation.
Because you have a beef about something related to Obama, and don't feel you should keep quiet in the land of the free? Tough luck there, bub.
But it's not all cold heartless I-told-you-soing from me. As much as I do not share their enthusiasm for President Obama, I am human enough to transpose myself into that tunnel, and imagine I am waiting for the inauguration of the person I had so eagerly campaigned for (perhaps Governor Palin, in this reverie), only to see my dreams of participation shattered. Worse, my pain is therefore dismissed as whining.
It's not that easy, folks. It takes a very brutal person to laugh at their sadness. Yes, they go over the top, and seem like spoilt children who furthermore have the hyperbole of circus posters about their suffering.
If I were so inclined, I would mention that this implosion of organisation in a predominantly black-run city reminds one too eerily of the mess of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The problem is that NOLA doesn't get hurricane practise like clockwork, every four years.
Further, considering the tactics required to keep order during the Million Man this or that, Protest this or the other, it just doesn't pass the "well, they can't prepare for such a large event" test.
They should be past masters of this task, no matter how large the crowds. There is no excuse.
Unlike Katrina, there is no unpopular president for Kanyé West to blame. It wouldn't be right anyway, because it's not his doing, but that has never stopped anyone from assigning blame arbitrarily.
I wonder, though, if this is one of the reasons we haven't heard any specifics from those in the Purple Tunnel of Doom in media. They do not know how to approach the story of disaffected Obama supporters, angry, disappointed, and completely depressed about the situation.
It would really harsh that Obama Presidency mellow, so they're shunted off to the backpages.
Fortunately, blogs can rectify that, and the excerpts of the stories below are my way of sharing this situation with those who may know little if anything about it.
Voice Number 1:
- "A reported two million people watched Barack Obama's inauguration today. I, unfortunately, wasn't one of them. If you don't care why, and just want foreign policy blogging, skip the rest of this post and come back tomorrow.
See, I went to the show with a few friends who received excellent Purple tickets as a reward for untold hours volunteering as foreign policy advisers for the Obama campaign. We got down to the security checkpoint for the Purple section bright and early (I left home at 4 AM), and were guided into a long tunnel which had been closed to traffic. We waited in line for nearly four hours, in a claustrophobic tunnel with no porta-potties, no food or drink, and not a single official or volunteer in sight. Finally, we got within sight of the Purple Gate -- only to find that it had been closed. Thousands of people in front of us hadn't gotten in (not that anyone bothered to tell the people languishing in the tunnel that the gate had been closed, mind you). Thousands of purple ticket holders were behind us. It's remarkable that there wasn't a riot. I rode the metro home with a lot of people who had been turned away, including an elderly African-American woman muttering over and over to herself that it had been one of the worst experiences of her life.
Searching for a foreign policy angle so that it isn't just my own bitter rant (and can be justified on FP.com)...
Maybe it's a metaphor for how foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign feel -- thrown out into the cold, shunted into a dismal and dank tunnel, abandoned without any communication, and ultimately locked out of the show.
Or maybe the Israelis could study the experience to learn how to stop the Gaza tunnels -- give every Hamas member a Purple ticket.
Either way, I just hope that Obama runs his foreign policy more effectively than the inaugural committee ran the ticketed sections today. What a dismal way to begin the new era. Bleah. I hope it was a great speech."
Voice Number 2:
"If you are saying we should move on from this, then you MUST not have been there. Clearly you didn't go through the same horrifying experience that I did with my brothers and sisters in this Tunnel of Doom. I was compromised financially and I'm not sure how I will recover in the short term. I will not give up my fight until this situation is made right. I wouldn't be true to myself if I did."
Voice Number 3:
"Regardless of the investigation findings, I've been robbed of a lifetime experience. Further, I brought along my 10 year old cousin to witness history in the making -- an experience I knew would solidify his drive to overcome the obstacles in his life as a young African-American kid living in poverty and within a single parent home. We did everything right to get to the blue gate a little before 8am, including leaving at 4am from Richmond, VA. He endured the bitter cold, the long waits, and even the butterflies in his shoulder. But, as our fears became reality that we would not get through, he started to cry. His tears cut me deeper than missing the swearing-in.
So, I ask my fellow blue and purple ticket holders to consider their loss as a political contribution and withhold any future contributions until you recoup your loss. For me, the experience was priceless, so the math is simple."
Voice Number 4: "Friends who have seen my emotional aftermath want me to "let it go." But I've been so emotionally invested in this election that getting a ticket to this shared American experience only to have the purple tide rush over me and thousands of others like me, AND crippling my ability to see or hear the inauguration at all, has become hard for me to rationalize."
Voice Number 5:
"I (along with my husband) had Purple tickets. I am heartbroken. We are seniors who have worked actively for Democrats our whole lives. This was our one chance to see our primary and general election candidate sworn in. We can never get this day back. And we are too old to ever try this again. We what we were told. We got there on time. Despite false reports otherwise, all the people I saw were orderly and cooperative. There was simply no line management, nothing. I feel like we were herded like cattle by police who knew they were not going to let us in. No one even tried. Even as our wonderful new president's staff was setting about to end Guantanamo Bay, we were unjustly " imprisoned" (ordered into the tunnel by police), left there to rot like so much garbage. This much I learned: despite all Barack's assurances, I do not count. I was disenfranchised on 1-20-09, a great, but simultaneously devastating, day."
Voice Number 6:
"To those who suggest we 'get over it', and to all the 'organizers' behind this event, may I say I would love to meet with you face to face to discuss this situation. How about say, tomorrow morning at about 6:30am in the 3rd Street tunnel. Just walk down there about 1/4 mile, turn around and stand still for 41/2 hours. I may or may not turn up (NOT) and then you can go home. I will then say sorry and expect you to 'get over it'.
This sense of powerlessness is life-altering, and perhaps it was important to get a taste of that on Obama's inauguration day. I don't think I've ever been in such a situation before, and on the drive home I couldn't help but think of all of those people in this United States who are so completely powerless, who make a monumental effort to give their kids something, only to find themselves a disposable, useless pawn in the game. Power on."
Voice Number 7:
"I saw a grown man defecate in a tunnel in front of thousands of people. This was not OK."
And finally, Voice Number 8:
"Sorry this has been a bit late in writing. I am suffering from an inaugural hangover that NO hair of the dog will alleviate. Back track to the early hours of the am Tuesday the 20th (4:30) to be exact. I had laid out all my layers the night before. Loaded my pockets with only essentials...camera, trail mix, kleenex, 2 packs of therma cares and 4 packs of hand and foot warmers.
Armed with enough gear to give Mt. Everest a go, I grabbed a quick muffin, a banana and some gatorade and began to hydrate so I would only need one possible pit stop. I headed out the door and walked 29 blocks in the chilling cold to the beginning of the line for the purple ticket holders. A line that even now at 6:00 stretched back over a mile through the car tunnel that goes under the mall. As I started walking to the back of the line, I found myself fighting a bit of claustrophobia trying to keep my mind from thinking about all of the the possibilities that could happen to 150,000 people lined up through a mile long tunnel (picture the buried alive scene in Kill Bill). The other thing I noted, was that there were NO security people anywhere to be found. Up top...there were hundreds of military personnel and road closures.
As I took my place in line...I befriended a beautiful young couple who had traveled from NY by bus to get to DC. They were filled with the same hope and excitement that filled us all that morning. As we stood, and stood, and stood, the line was moving painfully slow. It did give all of us a chance to talk and get to know one another. This magic of talking to so many people from so many different places, backgrounds and ages was the same magic I felt working on the campaign. The spirit that Obama was able to instill in an entire nation, a nation badly in need of inspiration. By this time there was a bitter chill in the air, about 23 degrees with a wind chill of...cold. The young girl next to me was complaining of very cold feet so I took out my extra foot warmers and gave them to her. In the 60's, people shared drugs...for this event...foot and hand warmers.
We had gone about halfway into the mile long tunnel, all 150,000 of us and it was starting to get alarmingly close to kick-off. There was a woman and her 3 kids in front of me who was starting to doubt the process but was trying to hold it together for her kids sake. Feeling that the group around me (and myself) could use a bit of a pep talk, I said, "don't worry guys...this is Washington DC, they are so used to doing this, they have handled the masses before and do it better than any city in the world, they are organized and we WILL get in." The woman thanked me and offered me an apple slice.
A moment later...the longest loudest version of if your happy and you know it filled the tunnel, it was incredible.
Did I mentioned that on the other half of the tunnel, emergency vehicles and VIP black SUV's would occasionally drive by the line with sirens blaring at 60 miles an hour...that did a lot for the nerves!!! By now...I had an extreme amount of anxiety standing in this tunnel but tried to hold it together.
Finally after what seemed like hours (4 to be exact) the end of the tunnel was visible and the line was moving. The familiar Yes We Can was now the chant of the hour as all of us breathed a sigh of relief, fresh air and natural sunlight. All of us were just happy to be out and could see the Purple VIP gate in site at about 100 yards. As I got within about 50 feet of the gate...I was greeted with a verbal kick in the stomach. People were yelling, "they have closed the gate...they are not letting anymore people in".
Impossible I thought. I have a Purple ticket...a ticket from Nancy Pelosi...they must mean the general gate. As I pushed my way up to the gate...this nightmare had become a horrifying reality...I had taken a week off work, paid a ridiculous sum of money for my plane ticket, woke up at 4:30 in the morning, walked 29 blocks in freezing temperatures, stood in a dingy, dirty, mile long tunnel for 4 hours with 150,000 other people packed in like sardines trusting only the good in people, and fantasized about this moment for the past 2 and a half months only to be turned away at the gate??????
There was no one there to talk to...not one cop or soldier as no one wanted to bare the brunt of this brutal reality. I thought about scaling the fence and thought better about getting shot. It was now about 11:15. The end of the mall (Lincoln Memorial) with a possible entry was 4 miles away with no taxi's or subways that wasn't an option. This can't be real....this is a bad dream.
The reality set in all at once. I slumped into a sickened ball. Washington let me down, the presidential inaugural committee let me down and I could not make the disconnect that Obama too...had let me down. I began to walk with tears streaming down my face away from downtown. I could hear the trumpets sounding from the marine band as I walked. My tears turned into rage and back into tears. My stomach was in knots. Even worse, there were no cabs or subways to get me out of town so I walked (and cried) the15 blocks until I finally reached the cab zone. I had the cab driver take me back to the house I was staying at in Georgetown. My head was splitting and my stomach was in knots.
I made it back to the house in time to here half of Joe Bidens swearing in. As I sat in my room watching the TV I realized I was not really listening, even as Obama was being sworn in I did not hear or see anything. My head hurt, my body was exhausted and my thoughts...stinging with hurt and disappointment. Halfway through the terrible poet, realizing that I did not want to stay in DC thru Thursday, I called Virgin airways and asked if they could get me on an earlier flight. I explained what had happened and was on the 5:15 flight back to San Francisco. I fell asleep before the plane took off.
After sleeping for almost 13 hours last night, I can tell you that I am still not fit for human consumption. I'm angry and my heart hurts and I need some time to sort through it all. I feel I let us all down...as so many of you were living this dream through me. I can't even turn on the TV as it is just a brutal reminder of the day that wasn't.
There were many people who didn't get in with me yesterday including the woman with the kids and the couple from NYC. In the tunnel we were comrades and to all the Purple pass holders who didn't get in...we now have earned our purple hearts. Keep living your dreams because when you lose your dreams...you die."
I know many are tempted to laugh at the hyperbole of the statesments above. Words like Gaza, Hamas, Purple Heart, disenfranchised etc. etc. etc. were bandied about to explain their suffering on the day.
On one level, it's madness, and the particular lack of maturity displayed by those who feel they are entitled to something in life, and then don't get it.
But these are not four or five year-olds who didn't get a lolly. They are grown men and women who made palpable sacrifices to share a moment they had worked for, some with financial sacrifices, all with emotional ones.
I can feel for them, even though at times I feel like they invested so much in the person of this person, that they were bound to come crashing to the ground eventually. In a sense, it serves as a warning to me especially, should I ever participate so fully in a forthcoming Presidential campaign.
One has to say to oneself, remember, nothing in life is about certainty. A ticket does not mean you WILL get inside, just that you MAY.
Just like President Obama's presidency is not certain to succeed, but may fail.
Getting a grip of reality is really just one more layer that wisdom gives you as you grow older. For many, realisations and dreams seem to be one and the same. And sometimes you realise that once your usefulness to a person is over, your importance to them is over too.
This is what happened here, inside this tunnel in shades of purple.
And of course, that is the real disaster of this sad event. Too many people had to grow up the hard way.
IN THE COMMENTS: Some really good stuff like Synova's common sensical and empathic reaction.
"I don't think it's funny and I don't think they're whining either.
I *never* even try to go to anything like this. When my husband worked at Lucasfilm we could have gone to a big premier party for Episode 3 and tried, but when the parking was full we decided not to try to park elsewhere in San Francisco and walk with our four small kids. But it's a situation that I avoid with a vengeance. I don't even go to special sales at stores.
What people go through to participate in an event like the inauguration is not trivial. It's not cheap. And the physical toll is significant. Even without such an emotional component to start... if it had be *me*... I'd have been in tears and I don't even like the guy.
What should have happened is that an announcement should have been made as soon as possible after the problem was apparent that anyone with tickets they hadn't been able to use would be able to redeem those tickets to get into an event staged just for them that Obama would attend. OR that the tickets could be mailed in to exchange for some special bit of swag or memorial item that no one else got."
I agree that would be a nice gesture, but that strikes me as something a President of either Party wouldn't do so as not to establish a precedent.
As my father says, Americans have unrealistic expectations due to your culture of accountability. When things do not go right, whether in ordering a pizza which arrives late and cold, or not getting into an Inauguration, people feel redress is owed them. In other countries, people shrug, and accept it (as Dr. Kill wrote) because "Sometimes, sh*t just happens."
That doesn't make you all wrong, obviously. It might even be the correct expectation to have in this world. But it does make for a lot of disappointment because few things ever go according to plan.
Jeff also points out this nonsequitur.
"I was disenfranchised on 1-20-09, a great, but simultaneously devastating, day.""
sigh. I do not think that word means what that person thinks it does.
I was thinking the same thing. Unless he believes their presence at the Inauguration counts as a "vote" of support...
UPDATE: This being the land of the free -- to make a buck out of anything, we already have the memorial t-shirt.
In case you wondered, 2009 is the Year of the Ox. Being a complete Westerner, I have no idea if this is good or bad, so I Googled for my Sundries readers.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2009 is the Year of the Ox. The Ox, or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox or Buffalo are fortunate to be stable and persevering. The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character. Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness that the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task. Ox people work hard without complaints at work or at home. They know that they will succeed through hard work and sustained efforts, and do not believe in get-rich-quick schemes.
Something tells me we're going to need strong, hard-working people in the coming years, so this is perfect.
Chinese New Year officially starts on January 26th, but this Beijing denizen already is getting his (or her?) shopping in. That's a whole carcass of lamb being carved, and they're patiently waiting for a cut from the guy with the Fez.
I may be a Westerner, but I do know that China STOPS wholesale for a week, even to the point of no Fedex delivery or anything.
It's worse than Brazilian carnival, but they have better oxen.
I never believed the scurrilous rumours that President Obama, during his college days at Columbia University, was not just a consumer of marijuana, but had actually sold it.
That's ridiculous. It's like believing that Governor Palin was turning tricks for tuition at Idaho U. Still waitin' on those transcripts though.
Today, however, comes news of a different kind of drug connexion. From the Smoking Gun site, entitled the Audacity of Dope (darn it, that was going to be my blogpost title):
"JANUARY 23--Add heroin to the scores of products that have been branded with President Barack Obama's name. Cops in upstate New York this week broke up a drug ring that allegedly sold heroin under several brand names, including "Obama." As seen in Sullivan County Sheriff's Office photos, the president's surname was stamped in red ink on small glassine wrappers that were peddled by street dealers. Investigators arrested five suspects for their alleged roles in the narcotics distribution activity. The branding of illicit drugs is a favorite of pushers, who have previously sold bin Laden heroin, Harry Potter Ecstasy, bricks of Teletubbies cocaine, and green-tinted crack in recognition of St. Patrick's Day."
Aww you gotta know that Teletubbie's gotta be some strong sheet. I want me some of that!
But the Obama heroin. Not so much.
What is that underneath? A ledger of who likes what, and when?
"100 g of pure Bin Laden for Apt. 5-A. They owe me for last week, don't forget."
P.S.: In a totally unrelated note, I watched Pineapple Express tonight, and though I am a Seth Rogen fan -- even I was growing weary of his pot-bellied loser routine. But this movie had me rolling down the aisles. Obama needs to Netflix that, stat.
President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
Sound familiar? It should.
This is but one schoolyard taunt removed away from the phrase which gave all his opponents a collective spasm, George Bush's "I'm the decider". And let's not forget his famous words after he was re-elected in 2004:
"I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it."
But Mr. Obama wasn't done. He had brought a quiver full of spitballs to the meeting with the Repugs.
"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package."
Someone needs to tell this Obama guy to get a grip.
What flew on the campaign trail, looks decidedly unleaderlike as President. He had spent most of his time battling the windmills of Fox News at the time, whining that if it weren't for Hannity and Fox News in general, he would be at least 2 or 3 points up in the polls.
I dismissed it as punchy rhetoric then, but now, I'm starting to sense a pattern.
Realise that we're not talking about Governor Palin here, who had the whole range of both the Left and Right journalistic world to battle against -- and largely, due to John McCain's ridiculous non-defense of her (and where was Todd, by the way?) she had to do it on her own.
This touchy attitude is coming from a sitting President of the United States, who must be used to hearing criticism as a politician, but is championed by many more people, especially now that he was elected. So what gives?
In 8 years, President Bush -- the world's most reviled man -- never once mentioned an ideological or journalistic foe public. Just once, actually. But it was a hot mic and he was speaking in confidence to his Vice-President about a New York Times reporter being an A-hole.
But that's it. Think about it. 8 years of the most trenchant, personal abuse towards him from every news organ, right down the line, and we never heard a peep about who he considered to be his adversaries in the press. Whilst in less than 3 days, we have a gloating, manchild President intent on making sure everyone knows he's writing down who's been naughty or nice.
So long as Barack Obama behaves presidentially, and controls some of the embarrassing behaviour of his Vice-President, he'll get more than a measure of respect from many quarters.
That's precious capital, Mr. President. Don't spend it all at once.
IN THE COMMENTS:Knox nails it.
Not only does he seem sort of defensive and, yes, thin-skinned as a person, but he has the additional handicap of having received no real criticism from the media. He likely believes at this point that anyone who gives him resistance is unreasonable or a far-right extremist, whose opinions can be discarded. That's a dangerous combination.
I hope it doesn't work out that way, but there are several incidents now of him being overly touchy and easily riled, simply when asked an inconvenient question. "Manchild" sounds about right. I just try not to think of it in the same sentence as "Commander-in-Chief".
Obama reminds me of...a military man, actually. It is said that career officers have a tendency to confuse dissent with mutiny. Any pushback is considered outrageous, or at the very least, out of place.
My grandfather, who ended up as a Colonel in the Second World War, said the generals who had the most difficulty with criticism were often the ones who were winging it, and didn't like to be reminded of it by having "discussion" about their plans.
And doesn't that sound like Barack Obama, with his nebulous plans all located sometime in the future.
One of my readers emailed me with a video link, which they thought would make a great post given that I would usually skewer it to the mirth of all (maybe).
As I started to watch these actors and actresses, singers and dancers pledge themselves to their country, a huge wave of sadness overcame me. I mean, massive depression bubble, with darkening horizon and slo-mo eyelid flutter.
Where was this sentiment during other Administrations? Where was the love for a hard-working, stressed President, the desire to reach out to one's community, the unalloyed pride to be American...BEFORE OBAMA?
Why, oh why do liberals only love their country the most when a liberal is at the helm? I don't love the US any the less after January 20, 2009, just because the guy I didn't vote for is President now.
I actually do have a response, and it's one most of my friends have heard before as I treat them to my bully pulpit. I will save it for another, more well-rounded post.
So for the record here is the "I, Pledge" video. Try to see if you can make it past David and Courtney. I couldn't.
So as not to waste a post, I give you another. This is much more filled with comic potential.
Here are Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore generously sharing their time and experiences attending the Inauguration, so the huddled masses in front of their monitors watching on Youtube can see what it might've been to attend if they were as cool and famous, and totally awesome like they are.
Isn't Ashton a Nikon spokesman? I can't believe he couldn't get a better lens to record his pimpin' ride.
I always try to spy what watch people are wearing, but I confess, I can't make out the bulky one new President Barack Obama favours. It's certainly different from the $50 Ironman Timex worn by his predecessor.
I do notice that he has an unusually shaped wedding band, though. It looks more like a signet ring. I wonder if the First Lady has its doppelganger?
A "pod" of 50 sperm whales beached themselves in Tasmania's Perkin Islands, and rescue workers are having a very difficult time reaching the poor mammals to help them. 48 of the 50 have already been confirmed as dead. Very sad.
It's not often that Tazzy is in the news, and even then it was usually because of famous son, Errol Flynn and his swordsman ways.
Sometimes the continent of Africa seems such a lost hope, with famine, corruption and disease its companion in every corner, that one is tempted to shrug and walk away. We dare not, no matter how lost it seems.
Zimbabwe has been in the throes of a cholera epidemic since August of 2008. The disease has killed 2,500 people and affected an unbelievable 48,600 others, according to the World Health Organisation's stats published Thursday.
One of the great unanswered questions for me in this life, which I do not know if I will ever have a satisfactory answer to, is why certain people tolerate certain things, which other people do not.
What ingredient "X" is there in some people, in some cultures, to live alongside this and accept it for their own people? Not just momentarily, in crisis, but as a daily reality with absolutely no desire to stamp it out without guilt trips and handouts.
If someone can provide me an answer, I would be much obliged.
Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand will apparently be getting the appointment after Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg teetered back into her withdrawal.
Not knowing anything about her, my first thought was that it was a savvy move on Governor Paterson's part, to appoint a relative unknown. It's also in line with the Burris appointment of keeping the minority watchers happy, although in this case it is even more untainted.
My second thought was, that woman is way too pretty to be a Democrat. We are talking Bella Abzug country, after all.
And sure enough, I found the Village Voice wringing its hands at the prospect. Here's why.
The irony is that Paterson may be swinging from the nation's most prominent Democratic family to one with strong Republican ties. Gillibrand's father, Doug Rutnik, is an Albany insider and lobbyist whose ties to former GOP powerhouses Joe Bruno, George Pataki and Al D'Amato are legendary.
Palladian, the star Althouse commenter, summed it up for a lot of people when he wrote:
Wow, so the people of New York State will actually get someone from New York State but not from New York City to represent them in the Senate? Cool. And she's not a celebrity or a "princess" and she makes the Village Voice unhappy? Even better.
I am very sorry for Caroline Kennedy, but it seems her camp botched her roll-out, and she did herself no favours by seeming to want the seat, without having the stomach for the fight.
It's one thing to be a Kennedy hungry to serve. It's another to stumble onto the scene, and expect a plum to fall on one's lap after lunching with Al Sharpton.
Please consider this a place-holder post for Oscars nominations talk. Having welched on my promise to write that Christmas Movie Guide for you, I will be taking this post more seriously.
Meanwhile, please consider my own predictions for the nominations to follow. Remember, this is not my choice for each category, given a personal preference. Just what I think the Academy will honour today.
EDIT NOON EST: Yikes, after staying up until the wee hours, I fell asleep shortly before the announcements! I have updated the post below, with the actual nominees, with my earlier picks being striked out.
But let me say that CANNOT BELIEVE The Dark Knight and Gran Torino didn't get nods. The Dark Knight was the best American fim of 2008, for chrissakes! Just further proof that Hollywood is extraordinarily out of touch with the rest of America and even critical acclaim. Apparently, a story about a paedolphile female Nazi was judged to have been worthier than a film which turned a whole genre on its head. Ugh. And no Sally Hawkins!?
I am so upset, I can barely write.
Slumdog Millionaire The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Reader Milk Frost-Nixon
The Dark Knight
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) Sean Penn (Milk) Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button)
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
Meryl Streep (Doubt) Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) Melissa Leo (Frozen River) Kate Winslet (The Reader) Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Kristin Scott Thomas (I Have Loved You A Long Time) Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) 1/2 correct: Kate Winslet Revolutionary Road
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) Josh Brolin (Milk) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Leonardo Di Caprio (Revolutionary Road) Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) Viola Davis (Doubt) Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) Taraji P. Henson (Benjamin Button) Amy Adams (Doubt)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) David Fincher (Benjamin Button) Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon) Gus Van Sant (Milk) Stephen Daldry (The Reader)
Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight)
Waltz With Bashir (Israel, Folman) Revanche (Austria, Spielmann) The Class (France, Cantet) Departures (Japan, Takita) The Baader Meinhof Komplex (Germany, Edel)
Incidentally, it's a travesty that Gomorra, from Italy, didn't make the shortlist of 9 foreign films. That is one of the best movies of the past year, full stop.
Having said that, maybe this is a good moment to give you one of those Americanised Top 10 Movies lists.
THE BEST MOVIES OF 2008
1. The Dark Knight 2. Happy-Go-Lucky 3. Gomorra 4. Wall-E (esp. the first-half) 5. Waltz with Bashir 6. Wendy And Lucy 7. Silent Light 8. Man On Wire 9. The Edge of Heaven 10. Revolutionary Road
REVISED: You know what? I took out Slumdog Millionaire: ultimately, I think it is worthy obviously, but it leaves me utterly cold. I also took out Boy In the Striped Pyjamas, because it was more manipulative than perhaps I am willing to admit.
I didn't include marvels like the Romanian 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 Days or Russia's Aleksandra, not because I didn't rate them, but because I feel they belong in last year's crop. In fact, I loved both these films very much. I also didn't include films such as "Rachel Getting Married" or France's "Flight Of The Red Balloon", despite them being high on many lists. I didn't care for either film. Ditto for "Taxi to the Darkside" or the Che series, yuck.
Alas, I haven't been able to watch a film Peggy Gero DaValt recommended, "Synecdoche, New York". The same is true with Cantet's "The Class".
Here are professional critics' Top 10 lists (in Roger Ebert's case, Top 20). I would say I have seen a good 60% of those listed.
But I will skin anyone alive if they put The Visitor as one of the best films of 2008, however good were the performances by Richard Jenkins and his Palestinian actress counterpart, Hiam Abbass.